The Third Level of Satsang (Association with the Writings of Masters and Saints)
"In daily life we need the guidance of a great sage or saint. Even though we might encounter many so called mahatmas or sadhus, the task of finding and identifying an accomplished guide is difficult. So, in consideration of this, how would satsang (association with a true saint) be possible? The answer is that we can study the teachings of the great saints of the past, because in their teaching we will find the elaboration of the Truth. This then is the third category of sat-sang. Generally, when we speak of satsang, it is this third category that is meant. This kind of satsang includes the study of scriptures and the words and writings of the saints and prophets of the past.
"As we continue diligently in this third type of satsang we accumulate the meritorious karmas which will lead to the meeting with a true saint. Then we will be able to do the second category of satsang. As we continue in association with a great saint, and with the saint’s blessings, we will gradually begin to meditate and undertake the prescribed spiritual disciplines. By diligently practicing these disciplines, we will one day, experience the first category of sat-sang — the association with the Supreme Being. When we have thus accomplished the highest category of satsang, our life’s purpose will be fulfilled." (Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj)
For a very long time I’ve been a collector, researcher and lover of books. These are for the most part translations of writings from other places and other times: Egypt and the Middle East, Near East, and further to the East, as in India. These can be described as sacred texts, rare spiritual classics, world scriptures, writings of mystics, saints, Sufis, and especially the Sant poet-mystics of India. I also continue to have a major interest in those “lost books of the Bible” or what’s known as “extra-canonical” or “apocryphal” texts — in other words, someone else’s scriptures — other Bibles from other branches of Judaism, Christianity, and various Gnostic movements of the ages.
I find it to be rather liberating actually to be able to explore the roots of a spiritual path or world religion, to take things right back to the very beginning, or before the beginning, opening one’s self up to significant and sometimes fairly radical discoveries, coming upon new or unanticipated insights or realizations about what is genuine, authentic, meaningful, and true. This approach of examining the foundations of spiritual movements, no longer bound by time, no longer tethered to one’s own particular cultural province or bias, in my case has caused me to change my religion on more than one occasion over the decades, and make other major course corrections along the way!
Spiritual Awakening Radio (and Sant Mat Satsang Podcasts), with James Bean, heard on various community, public radio stations and the web, explores the world of spirituality, comparative religion, world scriptures and other books, East and West, God, meditation, out of body or near death experiences (inner space), the vegan diet and other ahimsa ethics - education for a more peaceful planet.